Sunday, February 18, 2007

Last Saturday,....

and by that I don't mean yesterday, was a LOT better than the week before. So let's get to the latest residences, shall we?

We now have a Northern flicker in the Indoor Mew.

I should stop right here and apologize ahead of time for the blurriness of my pictures this week. Not sure what happened except that the two newest residences were very stressed out, so I hurried. SORRY!

Also, I keep mentioning the Indoor Mew and thought you might like to see how they have it setup for her. And yes, it is a "her", due to the lack of a bright red-orange patch on the side of the head.

Yep, they have a tree in there and everything! She's a pretty picky eater, mainly eating the suet, meal worms, and this new stuff we have been using called Flicker Smear, which is made up of peanut butter, suet and soaked kitten food, and named due to the fact that you smear it onto the logs spread out throughout the mew.

She was found in Friday Harbor and we believe she had been attacked by another animal, as she was missing feathers on the back of the head/neck region and had lost a lot of feather, along with skin on the back, so much so that muscle was exposed.
She was given antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. The wound was cleaned up and covered with Tagaderm.

She is flying well but was losing weight last week, which we will be keeping an eye on.

This is the other cutie we got in. It's a female Bufflehead that was found on Lopez Island.

I just LOVE these little guys, as they seem almost cartoon-like to me. I was fortunate enough to be there when she was admitted, so I got to see how we care for these unique waterfowl from the get go. First off, it was very clear that she was emaciated, weighing in at only 220g, when their normal weight is around 330g. She had been given fluids by the volunteer that sent her to us, so the first thing WE did, after giving her a physical exam, is to draw blood from her leg. This is so we can check on the red blood cells v.s. serum levels and her protein count.

Isn't her foot just fascinating?! Spending the majority of their life in water, salt or fresh, their toes are flattened to help with swimming and diving. Also, their skin looks almost reptilian in nature.

We filled up a tiny tube with blood and into the centrifuge it went. This separates out the red blood cells, white blood cells, and the serum. And here's what it looks like when it's done.

Now, the white blood cells are pretty hard to see, as they are this miniscule layer in between the red blood cells and the serum. We then take this tube and place it on this.

Called a Micro-Hematocrit Capillary Tube Reader, it helps read the packed red cell volume against the serum as a percentage. So you line the bottom of the tube on the bottom line of the chart and slide the tube until the top part of the serum section hits the top line of the chart. For animals avian in nature, you want the ratio to read between 45% and 55%.

The Bufflehead's read 49%, always keeping in mind, though, that dehydration does have an effect on those percentages. If she was completely hydrated, which she wasn't at the time of the blood draw, this could read completely different, so it's a rough guesstimate.

Then we break the tube and place some of the serum on this Refractometer.

Okay, am I dating myself if I say this looks like something out of a classic Star Trek episode? What this actually does is looks at the levels of dissolved proteins in the blood. This level determines if the animal can have food or is so emaciated they need to be started on some liquid food therapy, like Ensure. It needs to be over 2.0 for the feeding of food and hers read 2.4, so we chopped up some smelt and gave that to her.

After all of this, we need to get her feet and legs protected. Being a water bird, their skin is very delicate, so we take precautions to try and protect it as much as possible, seeing as how they won't be back in water for awhile. The first step is to coat the legs and feet with a water based lubricant.

Then, we wrap the legs and feet to prevent as much chaffing as possible.

And here is what she looked like when she was all done.

Even now I can't help giggling at this picture. Not sure why, it just strikes me as very funny! She was then put in a carrier that had a scaffold with netting stretched across it. This also helps with the prevention of feet/leg chaffing.

As you can see, her leg wraps slid off just in the time it took me to walk with her to the back room. They decided to wait and see if more of the lubricant got absorbed before trying to wrap them again.

That's it for now. I'll post my update for yesterday's adventures later this week. Til next time...


Shannon said...

Wow, Heath, what a great post! I find all that behind-the-scenes blood work fascinating. I'm so glad you shared it with us non-medical types! Oh, I too giggled when I saw the leg wrappings--they sort of look like leg warmers or something!

Heather said...

Thanks Shannon! It's weird, but in the 2 1/2 years I have been there, I don't think I have ever been involved, start to finish, with the whole blood work process, so it was fascinating to me as well!

As for the leg wrap picture, glad I wasn't the only one. I thought it might have been because I was so tired when doing my posting and I was just getting punchy or something!

Kari said...

Ok, I'm giggling too over her little wrapped feet! It looks like she has tights on that are 3 sizes too big! :} And it was neat to see all the blood work stuff, as it has been a coon's age since I've worked with any of that stuff! I was actually suprised at how much I remembered! Great post as always!